A Fan’s Manifesto – Winning Cures All

Al Davis' motto is all this fan is asking of his teams (courtesy footballnewsnow.com)

Just win baby.

The famous motto of Oakland Raiders’ owner Al Davis is somewhat ironic considering the Raiders do everything but win.  However, those three little words perfectly describe how almost every American sports fan feels about his or her team.

I am a fan just like you and frankly, I’m sick and tired of the expectations that are placed on me.  I don’t need to hear another coach, player, owner, executive, or media member call me out for not being supportive.  Here’s how this works: You (the team) create a successful product, and then I show up.  I’m not going to show up if there’s nothing in it for me.  Selfish?  You betcha.  Wrong?  Nope.

There’s no way athletic directors Joe Castiglione and Mike Holder enjoy seeing thousands of empty seats at Lloyd Noble and Gallagher-Iba, but the fan is the last person I’m going to blame for those arenas looking no better than junior high gyms.  Nobody is expecting Oklahoma to turn into a basketball crazed state anytime soon.  That being said, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the Sooners and Cowboys to make the NCAA tournament four out of every five seasons.  These are schools with a decent amount of basketball tradition.  They are big-time universities with big bucks coming from big boosters trying to get into a tournament that’s anything but exclusive.  If Jeff Capel and Travis Ford can’t give me something to look forward to, then why should I pay through the nose to watch a team hoping to sneak into the NIT?

Good economy or down economy, fan dollars are stretched thin.  If I have to pick and choose carefully, why am I going to pick a loser?  Some claim the Thunder is taking dollars away from the college basketball teams in this state.  I think that’s right, but it’s not because of over saturation in the market.  One team is on the rise and sells out; the other teams flounder around .500 and hear crickets during home games.  Fans will go see a winning product, period.

Now here's a squad worthy of my dollars. (courtesy newsok.com)

My duty as a fan is to be loyal.  I can still be a true fan of my team without attending a game.  I’ll support you, I’ll proudly wear your colors, and I’ll cheer hard from my couch, but I don’t need to spend money on mediocrity to be considered a true fan.  That is not a fair-weather philosophy.  A fair-weather fan jumps on an off the bandwagon depending on team success.  Let’s get one thing straight here; true fans don’t ever leave the bandwagon, and allegiance has very little to do with whether or not a ticket is purchased.

There's a simple solution to this problem. (courtesy sportsillustrated.cnn.com Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

I have nothing but respect and admiration for the fans that do show up for every game, every season.  Those long-time season ticket holders will never be questioned about loyalty.  But am I less of a fan for not putting my fanny in a seat?  I think not.  If anything, my empty seat sends a clear message to my school or pro team.  That folded up seat says, “This is unacceptable, and I expect more.”  Fans are like girlfriends.  Treat us well, give us something to believe in, and we’ll stick around.  But start slacking off or criticize us unfairly, and we’ll start to grow apart.  If you need us and want us that badly, then get better.  A good girlfriend doesn’t expect diamonds or expensive dinners all the time, and we fans don’t expect championships and conference titles every single year.  All we want is a consistently above average team that will provide us with some thrills and some hope for the future.  In other words, a little winning goes a long way.

And as for you Al Davis?  Just once, remember your own motto for the sake of Raiders fans everywhere.